The time has finally come for Blue Jay fans; Roy Halladay will soon depart Toronto for greener pastures in the National League. Leaving Toronto, Roy will pack up his family and crate them down to beautiful Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the next destination for my annual ballpark roadtrip.
If you’re reading my blog and you haven’t heard of this already you’re likely living under a rock. For the crag dwellers, here are the details of the deal as reported by various sites:
RHP Phillippe Aumont
OF Tyson Gillies
Player to be named later
Assistance with Halladay’s 2010 salary from Toronto
RHP Kyle Drabek
OF Michael Taylor
C Travis D’Arnaud
There are numerous ways to discuss this deal. I am going to touch on a couple. Namely, how this deal impacts Philadelphia and how this deal impacts Toronto.
Philadelphia has received the pitcher who many consider to be at least the best in the American League, if not the best pitcher in the Major Leagues altogether. Roy Halladay, who has dominated the big bats of the AL East (notable excellence against the Yankees, with a winning percentage above .750) stands to pitch even better against the senior league’s sluggers. Roy Halladay is a lock for NL Cy Young contention and is a better pitcher than Cliff Lee, whom the Phillies let go to Seattle for Halladay. Some may argue that Lee and Halladay are a wash due to their comparable numbers as of late, but Halladay gets the significant nod for pitching in the AL East, completing so many games, improving his strikeout numbers and for a decade of consistency.
The Phillies will miss two of their top prospects in Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek. This may hurt down the line, but the loaded Phillies are committed to win right now and they are taking the right steps to do it. Teams who are looking to rebuild need prospects to develop and fill holes. The Phillies have hardly any holes, at least none that Drabek or Taylor could fill in the near future, and as such this was an excellent move on their behalf.
The move is more complex to analyze from the Blue Jays perspective. The Jays will enter the 2010 season without a a real superstar. With Rios gone and Vernon Wells lagging there is nobody, aside from maybe Aaron Hill, to be a moral and statistical leader of the team. This will hurt both the locker room and ticket sales – which are bad regardless. As for the effect that Halladay’s departure will have on the team’s success, I’m less worried. Halladay had become, as a result of JP Riccardi’s ineptitude, an unnecessary luxury on an otherwise underachieving ball club.
The future, however, is bright in Toronto for the first time in years. While it is still to early to tell if D’Arnaud is destine for greatness, Drabek and Taylor are stars in the making. The 6’6″ Taylor is both quick and good with the bat. In the least he’ll be a high average corner outfielder. At best he’ll be a massive homerun hitter – he has shown significant power in the low level minors. To develop more fully Taylor will have to watch his weight and follow the guidance of his coaches to maximize his potential. Drabek on the other hand may be ready soon. He has dominated all levels of minor league batting and is poised to develop into a strikeout machine. One or both of these men may lead the Blue Jays into the next decade.
For the time being Toronto fans are asked to do what they have been doing for far to long; be patient. The new GM, however, seems committed to rebuild the team the right way in developing the farm team with high potential prospects. I can’t remember the last time I said something truly positive about a Blue Jays GM.
Greetings new friends and old followers.
Its time to get back at this –
The title of this post is a little misleading. The Alex Gonzalez signed today to a one year contract worth 2.75 million dollars is not, thankfully, the same Alex Gonzalez who wooed women in Toronto throughout the late 90’s but is instead the Alex Gonzalez who has played for Florida, Boston and Cincinnati.
A day after signing John MacDonald as a utility middle infielder to a two year deal worth 3 million dollars the Blue Jays signed the slick fielding Gonzalez to a one year deal with a club option for 2.5 million dollars in for the 2011 season.
This deal makes sense for a number of reasons. Chiefly, the signing of Gonzalez enables the Blue Jays to let 2009’s starting shortstop, Marco Scutaro, attempt to find a big contract in free agency. Marco will surely command more than what he is truly worth after playing above his talent level for the first half of this past season. Gonzalez, a year younger than Scutaro, is a better fielder and his hitting is similar to or better than Scutaro’s over his career.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, this deal frees the Blue Jays up in trade talks for Roy Halladay from having to go after a prospect to fill the shortstop position. While they may still look for someone to be the shortstop of the future, this is no longer such a dire need.
Thirdly, because Gonzalez is not a type A or B free agent the Blue Jays do not have to surrender draft picks in order to sign him.
Finally, if the Jays now choose to let Scutaro go they will receive draft picks as compensation.
While not a blockbuster move for our new GM it represents a quick and effective signing that allows the Blue Jays to spend less time and resources on signing Marco Scutaro in order to focus on getting the best deal possible for Roy Halladay.
The most recent ploy conjured by JP Riccardi to bring back AJ Burnett has been to promise him more years, albeit at a lower price. This ensures that AJ has a job in Major League Baseball until he is well into the twilight of his career making a respectively high salary.
I ask you, faithful readers, why? I sure sign of the trouble ahead came to me yesterday morning. The folks on TSN, our local sports network, commented that the Jays’ expected relative inactivity in the offseason would lead to another dissappointing season. When the mainstream media is making such claims, you know that the panic has passed beyond the speculative blogsphere and into the public’s conscious.
To be fair to JP, before I go any further, let’s review his situation. JP is saddled with the difficult task of managing a financial system where all our your salaries/expenses are in American funds but your revenues are in Canadian funds. With the dollar trading in Canada at .80 US the Jays stand to suffer somewhat (although not as bad as in the past).
JP also toils in the impossibly competitve and expensive AL East where the Yankees and Red Sox are bound to outclass the Jays and Orioles every year in spending.
JP has also received poor returns on most of the big free agent signings that he has made, being bitten by the injury bug one too many times.
On the converse. JP has been given a payroll of around 100 million dollars to deal with – a respectable sum even in today’s market.
JP has also had the benefit of good returns on some of the players he’s drafted (Hill, Marcum, McGowan, et all)
JP has ALSO been given an inordinate amount of time to construct a winning team and has not produced a squad who has faired any better than second place in the division. They Jays are literally no further ahead than they were when JP got here.
All common knowledge – what’s the point Byrne?
If JP can’t compete with the big guns in the AL East, which is obvious, and is gunshy about chasing any other free agents outside of Burnett this offseason – a fact that he has alluded to on a number of occasions – then there is no point in signing Burnett to a five year contract just to watch the Jays finish a couple of games over .500 every season and in third place in the East. What is more is that Burnett is absolutely untradeable if he’s having a bad season or two with three or four years left on a contract.
Let’s trade Halladay instead. I know, bloggers have come out against this idea a number of times. Even I would hate to see Halladay go. But let’s compare him with Toronto hockey star Mats Sundin. Leafs’ GM Cliff Fletcher begged Sundin to waive his no trade clause so that the Leafs could send Sundin to a playoff bound team in exchange for some excellent young players/draft picks. If Sundin had cared as much about the Leafs as he claimed he did he would have allowed a trade to happen, gone and played in the playoff and then returned to the Leafs in the offseason to help develop the youth movement.
Instead he hasn’t played yet this season, the Leafs missed the playoffs, and they likely will again this year.
Picture this – Halladay starts the year as a Jay. He plays his heart out, just as he always does, until the trade deadline. JP trades him for a number of prospects from a team who is making a play for the post season (Oakland, with whom JP has an almost too comfortable relationship with, may be this team), and the rebuilding era begins!
In a perfect world JP will be fired and a new GM steps in to oversee this phase. However, if the prospects turn out then JP’s legacy is increased monumentally – he becomes the former GM who made a trip to the playoffs possible by making an unpopular but wise decision.
You want Roy back? Sign him to a contract when he hits free agency, his contract will be up soon.
That’s my sollution, folks. Feel free to tear it apart.
“They both (statistics & bikinis) show a lot, but not everything.” – Infielder Toby Harrah
Lee and Halladay
I want to make myself perfectly clear. Its been obvious since just after the All Star Break that Cliff Lee was bound to win the AL Cy Young. His spectacular comback from relative obscurity in 2007 combined with his league leading era and wins total made him an excellent, if not unbeatable, candidate. Roy Halladay, receiving roughly half of the number of votes that Lee received (132-74), should have been much less of an afterthought.
I have a bias towards Halladay, obviously, since I live just outside of Toronto and I watch him season after season pitch at a high level despite his often less than stellar run support. Regardless, however, of my opening quote I will now turn to a few statistics to support my case for Halladay. He was second in the league in ERA, tied for second in wins and third in strikeouts (a career high). But wait, there’s more, much more. He led the league in complete games, WHIP, shutouts, batters faced and SO to BB ratio. Halladay finished second or close to Lee in the categories Lee dominated, Lee similarly paced Halladay in all but strikeouts and batters faced.
What does this come down to? The loss column. Lee lost just 3 to Halladay’s 11. What gives? Look at some of those losses! Halladay threw a complete game loss, a number of late inning losses and suffered some of the worst run support this side of Kansas City. I am not blaming those who voted in Lee for the Cy Young. Did the Blue Jays offense lose Halladay a trophy. Yes.
Halladay was the best pitcher in ball in 2008. Elias Sports Bureau agrees. What makes the difference is that when the game was on the line, the Jays bats could not deliver for their wonderfully faithful ace. Think of that, JP, when you’re shopping this winter.
In response to a recent Ken Rosenthal article I’ve been reflecting on a few issues.
Despite the recent hirings in Toronto, including Gillick era manager Cito Gaston and president and CEO Paul Beeston the Blue Jays will now add a second year to their 1993 World Series Champion opponent Phillies’ 14 year playoff drought. Sure, the Phillies play in the weaker National League, but I have been hard pressed to find reasons why the Blue Jays have been so long without a playoff birth in an era when the Rays, Twins and A’s have all had significant playoff runs despite low payrolls and poor attendance.
I have, after much thought, settled on three hypothesis:
Middling: The Jays, after thoughts in the American League East, have done just enough to place in the middle of their division for a number of years. Accordingly they have done just enough to blow their chances at excellent draft picks and have kept just enough high caliber players to stop us from entering total rebuilding phases. Yes, I will at some point argue for why even fellows like Halladay and Wells are tradeable.
Front Office Hirings: Gord Ash was a bust. Riccardi and the eight year plan are intolerable. I can’t wait to see what Godfrey’s replacement can do.
Post-Gillick drought: When a GM wagers so much on building a championship team in a small/middle market the aftermath can be troublesome. After his stints in Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle Gillick left his teams with a lot of hope, a diminished farm system and a slew of soon-to-be unaffordable big name players. I am not upset with Gillick, but he understands the cost of a champion, whether or not he sticks around for the residual effects.
Kudos if you picked up the song reference – I’ve got a special place in my heart for the Talking Heads.